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By David Alexander KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan for a weekend visit on Saturday but had no plans to meet President Hamid Karzai amid tensions over his refusal to sign a deal governing the post-2014 U.S. military presence, a senior U.S. official said. Hagel was expected to visit U.S. and international troops across the country and to hold talks with Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and Interior Minister Umer Daudzai, a Pentagon spokesman, Carl Woog, said in a statement. A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hagel did not expect to meet Karzai amid the dispute over his refusal to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) recently endorsed by a loya jirga, an assembly of tribal elders and politicians. "The United States has made its position on the BSA clear," the official said.
Diplomacy with Iran must be backed up by US military might, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said Saturday in a speech to Gulf allies anxious over a nuclear deal with Tehran. Hagel promised the United States would maintain a 35,000-strong force in the Gulf region, as well as an armada of ships and warplanes, despite the recent accord with Tehran. Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, he said the interim deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear programme was a risk worth taking, but that Western diplomacy should not be "misinterpreted". The Pentagon "will not make any adjustments to its forces in the region -- or to its military planning -- as a result of the interim agreement with Iran," he added.